Rewriting can seem like a daunting task, one often more of a challenge than the initial first draft of your manuscript. Now that your ideas are on the page, you can begin crafting and fine-tuning them into a stronger narrative. Making these changes in a work this is tens- or hundreds of thousands of words can also be overwhelming.
That’s why I recommend what I call Scratch Pad Drafting.
This Old Date
I highly recommend that you keep multiple dated drafts of all your manuscripts. From the first to the last, having a historical record of your story’s evolution is crucial. This is also important if something happens and you must go back in time to retrieve something you omitted from subsequent drafts.
Free Your Mind
Cutting and adding paragraphs or chapters in a seemingly completed manuscript can be tricky, especially if you’re writing on the fly. There will be times – many of them – when you’ll be reading through and find that a section doesn’t work.
What to do?
Have another document open that you can use to workshop fresh ideas. This blank canvas allows you to try new things, work out ideas, and punch up dialogue without fear of reformatting or other issues that can crop up when working on the manuscript. Now you have free reign to play around and work things out until you are satisfied with the new version.
Then, copy and paste the new material and add it to the manuscript.
Punching Things Up
The Scratch Pad can also be helpful when working out a character or location description. You can work to create the most descriptive sentence using the least number of words. Or, you can embellish and weave an intricate tapestry of sights, smells, sounds, and more to describe a person, place, or thing.
This is the best place to try those things out. You’re not affecting the manuscript while you work, and once you have the best version available, you can add it to the draft you’re working on.
This is also good as a place to punch up dialogue. You can work out important exchanges, jokes, and other moments to make them more realistic and truer to your characters. Again, the Scratch Pad is the place to play around and find the best version to serve your story and enhance the reader’s experience.
There’s always room to fine-tune and refine your work as you craft your next draft. Using a separate document to work on new sequences, descriptions, and dialogue gives you an open space to play and create without the burden of affecting the manuscript before the time comes to do so.
Happy Writing, and I’ll see you next time!